WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden signed Democrats’ groundbreaking Climate Change and Healthcare Bill in law on Tuesday, calling what he called the “final piece” of his abbreviated domestic agenda as he seeks to bolster his party’s reputation with voters less than three months before the midterm elections..
the law includes the most substantial federal investment in history to fight climate change — some $375 billion over the past decade — and would cut prescription drug costs to $2,000 per year for Medicare recipients. It would also help an estimated 13 million Americans afford health insurance by extending subsidies provided during the coronavirus pandemic..
The measure will be paid for by new taxes on large companies and stepped up IRS enforcement of wealthy individuals and entities, with additional funds to reduce the federal deficit.
At a triumphant signing event at the White House, Biden pointed to the bill as proof that democracy — no matter how long or messy the process — can still deliver for voters in America, as he tested a rule he’s likely to repeat later this fall prior to to the midterm elections: “The American people have won and special interests have lost.”
“At this historic moment, Democrats sided with the American people, and every Republican in Congress sided with special interests in this vote,” Biden said, repeatedly poking fun at the contrast between his party and the GOP. “Each.”
The House approved the measure Friday by a party line of 220-207 votes. It passed the Senate days earlier with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a 50-50 tie in that chamber.
“In normal times, getting these bills done would be a huge feat,” Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said at the White House ceremony. “But to do it now, with only 50 Democratic votes in the Senate, over an irreconcilable Republican minority, is nothing short of astonishing.”
Biden signed the law in a small ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House, sandwiched between his return from a six-day beach vacation in South Carolina and his departure to his home in Wilmington, Delaware.. He plans to hold a larger “celebration” for the legislation on Sept. 6 once lawmakers return to Washington.
The signing marks a spurt of legislative productivity for Biden and Congress, who passed legislation in three months on veterans’ benefitsthe semiconductor industry and gun vouchers for young buyers. President and lawmakers have also responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and overwhelmingly supported NATO membership for Sweden and Finland.
With a lagging assessment of Biden’s approvalDemocrats hope the string of successes will boost their chances of maintaining control in Washington through the November midterms. The 79-year-old president wants to restore his own position with voters as he considers making a re-election bid..
The White House announced Monday that it would commit Biden and members of his cabinet to a “Building a Better America Tour” to promote the recent victories. One of Biden’s trips will be to Ohio, where he will watch the groundbreaking construction of a semiconductor factory that will take advantage of the recent law to boost production of such computer chips. He will also stop in Pennsylvania to promote his government’s plan for safer communities, a visit scheduled for the same day he tested positive for COVID-19 last month.
Biden also plans to hold a cabinet meeting to discuss how to implement the new climate and health care law.
Republicans Say Legislature’s New Business Taxes Will Raise Prices, Worsening Nation’s Highest Inflation Battle since 1981. Although Democrats call the measure the Inflation Reduction Act, unbiased analysts say it will have a barely perceptible impact on prices.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune, RS.D., continued the same criticisms Tuesday, although he acknowledged there would be “benefit” from extensions of tax credits for renewable energy projects such as solar and wind.
“I think it’s spending too much money, too much tax, and in my opinion wrong priorities, and a super-charged, super-sized IRS that will chase not only a lot of high-income taxpayers, but also a lot of mid-income taxpayers,” said Thune, speaking at a Chamber of Commerce event in Sioux Falls. The government has disputed that anyone but the high earners will face increased tax audits, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen instructing the IRS to focus solely on businesses and people earning more than $400,000 a year for the new audits.
The measure is a slimmed-down version of the more ambitious plan to boost environmental and social programs that Biden and his party unveiled early last year.
Biden’s initial 10-year proposal of $3.5 trillion also provided free pre-kindergarten, paid family and medical leave, expanded Medicare benefits and relaxed immigration restrictions. That Crashed After Centrist Senator Joe ManchinDW.Va., said it was too expensive, taking advantage of the leverage every Democrat has in the equally divided Senate.
At the signing event, Biden turned to Manchin, who made the crucial deal with Schumer on the package last month, saying, “Joe, I never doubted,” as the crowd chuckled. Later, outside the White House, Manchin said he has always maintained a “friendly relationship” with Biden and that it has “never been personal” between the two, despite Manchin breaking off his negotiations with the White House last year.
“He’s a little more vintage than I am, but not much,” Manchin said of Biden.
While the bill is significantly smaller than their initial ambitions, Biden and Democrats hailed the legislation as a one-time investment in addressing the long-term effects of climate change, as well as drought in the west of the country..
The bill will use spending, tax credits and loans to bolster technology such as solar panels, consumer efforts to improve the energy efficiency of homes, emission control equipment for coal and gas-fired power plants, and air pollution control for farms, ports and low-income communities.
Another $64 billion would help 13 million people pay premiums for privately purchased health insurance under the Affordable Care Act over the next three years. Medicare would be given the power to negotiate drug costs, initially in 2026 for just 10 drugs. Medicare beneficiaries’ over-the-counter prescription costs would be capped at $2,000 per year from 2025, and no more than $35 per month would be paid for insulin, the precious diabetes drug, from next year.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, DS.C., a powerful political ally of Biden, noted at the White House ceremony that his late wife, Emily, who battled diabetes for three decades, would be “out of joy” if she were alive today. because of the insulin cap.
“Many seem surprised by your successes,” Clyburn told Biden. “I’m not. I know you.”
Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Darlene Superville in Washington, and Stephen Groves in Sioux Falls, SD, contributed to this report.